Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Should we pitch creative teams and approaches to Sean?

Philip, Patrick, what do you think of pitching creative teams and outlines for all of the six books? That way, Sean could pick the two books he thinks would get the best treatment from us?
Since he hasn't handed us titles yet, my mind is cutting loose trying to come up with concepts, but I don't know which of them I'll get to implement. I can only guess that you two feel the same right now. By pitching for all of the six books, Sean will have something he can base his decision on.

Plus, we can offer fans of the simulation a look behind the scenes at what might have been.


Philip Schaeffer said...

I feel kind of bad for you since Sean's at work right now and when he's done and ready to focus on this you may be sound asleep in Nord Rhein Westfalen.

Go ahead and pitch your creators and directions. I'll do the same at some point today. I know you've got an FF idea, so do you want us to back off or should we all post our ideas on everything just to be democratic about it?

Michael Heide said...

Either we do this completely (meaning that all of you pitch for the Fantastic Four as well) or we don't do this at all. Just because I have an idea doesn't mean that it's better than yours. We're all in the same boat here. We want to put out the best books possible.

Michael Heide said...

Oh, and I was awake until 6am last night. I might as well live in your time zone.

Michael Heide said...

Okay, here we go:

The creative team:
Brad Meltzer (or Allan Heinberg, or Bob Gale, or Marc Guggenheim), Salvador Larocca.
The direction of this book is a lawyer that just so happens to be a superhero, not the other way around. Think Matlock with superpowers. Meltzer writes better legal thrillers than that Grisham guy. Try Dead Even or The Tenth Justice. Plus, he wrote a great (and successful) whodunit in Identity Crisis. This man knows comic book continuity. As a bonus, he's a long time fan of She-Hulk. At least Philip says that he is.
If we don't get Meltzer, my backup choices are Allan Heinberg (who knows his Marvel continuity, judging from Young Avengers) and Bob Gale (who wrote a great Marvel Universe legal thriller in Daredevil). Heinberg has a reputation of slowing down the release schedule of the book. While I trust him, I would want to keep backup scripts in my drawer just in case there's a Grey's Anatomy related delay. Since every book is a done-in-one story (like Paul Dini's Detective Comics), fill-ins wouldn't be as jarring as they are on Wonder Woman, they wouldn't occur in the middle of a storyline. If Brad Meltzer, Allan Heinberg and Bob Gale all happen to be unavailable, Marc Guggenheim is the guy to go to. He knows how to write whodunits (Aquaman), knows the Marvel Universe (to include Damage Control in his Wolverine run proves this in my opinion pretty effectively) and can make a book exciting (his Flash run is the best one since Mark Waid left the book, no offense to the other creators involved in the time between).
Salvador Larocca pencils awesome female characters, but his artwork is grounded in reality. The perfect combination for She-Hulk. Plus, he's a fan favorite and might raise sales. Which is not a bad thing, if we want to reach the 408k.

The direction: See above. Think Matlock with superpowers (and a bigger cupsize). Done in one whodunits in and out of the courtroom. Thinking about it, Mike W. Barr (The Maze Agency) would be a great choice as well, if the other writers can't commit to the book.

The promotion:
If we get Meltzer or Heinberg, the hype will come automatically. Fans will complain about Identity Crisis or Wonder Woman, leading to page after page of Newsarama feedback, keeping the responding thread high on the thread list, leading to awareness of the book. Wizard might be interested as well, we might have to ask Ben about this.
Larocca has his own inbuilt fanbase that follow him to every book he's own. I think we could move the book from 30'000 to 55'000 with a minimum of PR effort. Slap a nice Greg Horn cover (I'd keep him on the cover art) on the Marvel.com page, let a few sleeper agents use She-Hulk avatars and signature banners at the most frequently visited message boards, etc.
We might throw in a guest appearance by Daredevil or the Incredible Hulk somewhere down the line to keep the book interesting.

Michael Heide said...

Fantastic Four:
The creative team:
Joe Casey, Paul Pelletier (who stays on the book he's currently on)
Covers by Ed McGuinness (who might even get to draw the interior of an upcoming issue down the road).

Why Casey?
He knows the Fantastic Four and wrote a brilliant miniseries (First Family). Let's bring him on the main title. I love Casey's Marvel work in the mid to late nineties (Cable, Hulk, Deathlok, even Uncanny X-Men which suffered from too many different artists and a (back then) weak internet presence) which had so many cool continuity payoffs (his Deathlok was introduced in Cable. Hulk featured the Ringmaster, who later became the main villain in Deathlok.
And any writer that brings back the Tinkerer (in Cable!) has my Marvel stamp of approval.
If you follow his later work, both Majestic at Wildstorm and

Why Pelletier?
He's currently on the book already and would smooth the transition. He has worked with Casey before (on the Uncanny X-Men/Fantastic Four annual!), it seems like the chemistry is right.

Why Ed McGuinness?
Besides drawing a Thing that comes close to Art Adams' enchiseled coolness? He works great with Casey (Hulk, Majestic), should he get to do the interior of an anniversary issue down the road. And he is a fan-favorite artist. But with him working on Ultimates volume 4, he sadly can't be the regular artist on Fantastic Four. Oh, and his close is similar to Paul Pelletier's. In fact, the two of them shared an issue of Superman a few years ago. The German reprint didn't add the credits, and most of the fans didn't realize the change of artists mid-issue.

The direction of the book:
Back to basics. With Rise of the Silver Surfer starting in June (or in August, depending on where you live), we might be too late to benefit from the movie, but we'll be there for the DVD release. That means that Black Panther and Storm are off the team and we're getting back to the original members. Have them fight villains from FF history and maybe new villains (if Joe, Paul and Ed don't mind). The problem with that approach in the past has been the artist. Sure, my first instinct was putting Ladronn on the book. He had a modern Kirby style with manga influences and had a long collaboration with Casey in the past (again, on Cable). But his style could appear dated to newcoming readers (still gambling on Rise of the Silver Surfer here), so let's get someone with a flashy, yet clean, crisp style. Enter Pelletier.

The promotion:
Four free Preview Stories by the new creative team, posted in four different places. Together, they form a 22 page story (that will be included in his first paperback), but each part stands on its own.

1.: Mr. Fantastic (six pages) – Backup story in the last issue by the preceding creative team. Of course, that adds to that issue's page count, so we will have to ask Tom.

2.: Invisible Woman (five pages) – posted at Marvel's MySpace page, only available to friends of the Marvel Myspace. Kind of like DC's Countdown, but we would give readers a whole story.

3.: Human Torch (five pages) – Wizard exclusive story (until it gets reprinted in the paperback), ask Ben about this. Wizard can use this in the magazine or post it at wizardworld.com, or both.

4.: Thing (six pages) – Complete story in the Marvel Previews catalogue. Might have to ask the respective department, read: Tom.

Other potential places should one of the above shouldn't play out: A small booklet shipping with the Rise of the Silver Surfer DVD, Marvel.com or Newsarama.

Michael Heide said...

The Spider-books:

Amazing Spider-Man: Dan Slott, Phil Jimenez.
Spectacular Spider-Man: Brian K Vaughan, Adrian Alphona.

Amazing Spider-Man:
I don't know about you, but I loved Swing Shift, especially the new villain Overdrive. This would be the straightforward book, the one that introduces new characters and updates old ones. My goal is to slowly, but surely, introduce a number of villains that form a new Sinister Six. If we have enough time, we could even have a battle between the old Sinister Six versus the new ones.
So it'd only make sense to keep the creative team from Swing Shift.

Spectactular Spider-Man:
This is the classic book. The one for longtime fans. Vaughan wrote a great Spider-Man miniseries (Negative Exposure) that obviously played before Peter became a teacher, before Aunt May found out about his double life. And Doctor Octopus is probably one of the best classic villains. This mini screamed Classic Spider-Man. Wonderful.
For Spectacular, I'd reunite him with his longtime partner in crime, Adrian Alphona. He pencilled Spider-Man in Runaways: East versus West. That Spider-Man exuded a coolness that hasn't been seen in a long time.

The Free Comic Book Day issue would seem to be the first step in promoting Amazing Spider-Man, especially if Overdrive appears again. Readers seemed to like the issue (except for the Jackpot scene, but we wouldn't need to touch on that particular part), so announcing the two would take over Amazing should get fans on our side. Maybe we could reprint it for the special edition of the Spider-Man 3 DVD.
As for Vaughan and Alphona, their Runaways run collected awards like I do comics. Librarian awards, young readers awards, at some point, I stopped counting. If we market this as an all-ages book (similar to the Marvel Adventures book, that in my opinion only suffers from the Marvel Adventures label (fans don't think it's in continuity, so they don't bother)), we should be off to a good start. Since Alphona can only do about eight to ten issues a year, we need fill-in artists anyway, so those are good opportunities to hype the book again.

Philip Schaeffer said...

Looks like this is all a moot point anyway. I'm happy that I have your ideas on She-Hulk and FF, though; it's quite possible that She-Hulk would really benefit from a done in one structure.

Michael Heide said...

Uncanny X-Men:
Creative team: Robert Weinberg, Chris Batista.

Why Weinberg? When he wrote Cable, Robert Weinberg showed a huge understanding of the X-Men history and their concept. If you have read his idea for who the third Summers brothers is, you know that time travel comes natural to him. But he also has a huge background in horror novels. My outline features Trevor Fitzroy and Belasco as two of the main villains, so Weinberg is the best choice for the book.

Batista is hot thanks to 52, but DC doesn't seem to do anything with him. It would make sense to put him on a Marvel book, and I think of the books we were dealt, Uncanny X-Men is the most logical choice.

The concept: Simplify it. Cut down the members and supporting cast. Make it easy for new readers to grasp who is who. How to do this without killing someone's favorite character?
At Cyclops' and White Queen's wedding, everyone shows up. Then, Trevor Fitzroy appears and teleports the majority of the characters presents to an unspecified time in the future. The remaining characters (Xavier, Cyclops, Wolverine, Colossus, Nightcrawler (with real German thanks to his editor), Cecilia Reyes, Cannonball, Cable) band together. Some day, the other members (among them Emma Frost, Kitty Pryde, Beast and Rogue) will return without noticing that they have ever been gone.
Why does Fitzroy do this? In the future, Fitzroy found out that the X-Men will defeat him once and for all. By sending them to another time, he thought that he had gotten rid of the threat. Not knowing that this move leads to the forming of the team that brings him down.
However, unknown to the team, Belasco was the one who saved Nightcrawler from Fitzroy. Kurt Wagner is now in his debt. Some day, he will have to repay it. Will he betray his friends? Of course not, leading to a kickass battle with Belasco. But for the first year or so on the book, Belasco wouldn't be center stage. He'd be the man in the background, pulling the strings.

I haven't really wrecked my head about this yet. Uncanny X-Men is pretty popular to begin with. Maybe we could write an article for Marvel.com showcasing the past of the team. Former writers, former artists, former villains (with Belasco and Fitzroy mentioned, so people will be familar with them. We don't have to hit them over the head with the notion that they will be the main villains). On the other hand, this could be done in Wizard, or even a Wizard X-Men special. We should ask Ben.

Michael Heide said...

Great. I get Wolverine, the only title that I don't already have pitch for. I'll see what I can do.

Philip Schaeffer said...

Since you've given me so many ideas on She-Hulk and FF, let me float you an idea I had for a Wolverine story at some point:

A mysterious and distant space-faring race whose incredible vessels are fueled on life force travel to Earth to capture Wolverine in the hopes that his healing factor will provide them with an unlimited fuel supply for their flagship in a huge space battle.

Unfortunately for them, the ship takes on Wolverine's consciousness, frees Wolverine and proceeds to mercilessly fly around space in a berserker rage killing its former masters. The story could be the rearrival of this huge sentient spacecraft at the Xavier Mansion with the capture stuff in flashback.

Upon reading this I realize that's one of the most ridiculous things anyone's ever written. Still, you can't say I never gave you nothin'.

Michael Heide said...

I appreciate the offer (and the effort), but I'm not a big fan of Wolverine in Space stories. With the notable exception of the first Brood storyline, of course. Besides, I'm already thinking of moving Wolverine in a noir setting.